Common Types of Medical Malpractice in Pennsylvania
Medical malpractice occurs when doctors and other medical professionals provide care that deviates from the accepted standard of care and cause injury and harm to patients. Some types of medical malpractice are more common than others. While people seek treatment at hospitals or doctors’ offices in the hope that they will receive treatment that will help them recover from their medical conditions or injuries, many people are seriously injured or killed because of medical errors each year. According to a study published by John Hopkins, medical malpractice is the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. An estimated 250,000 people die each year because of medical mistakes, according to John Hopkins. However, the Journal of Patient Safety reports that the number of people killed in the U.S. because of medical malpractice incidents could be actually as high as 450,000. By understanding the most common types of medical malpractice claims, you might have a better idea of the types of errors you should watch for so that you can protect yourself. Here is some information about the most common types of claims filed following incidents of medical malpractice from the medical malpractice lawyers at Raynes & Lawn.
What Are the Most Common Types of Medical Errors That Result in Claims?
While medical malpractice can occur in many different ways, many malpractice claims involve the following types of medical negligence:
- Misdiagnoses/delayed diagnoses
- Negligent failure to properly treat
- Prescription drug mistakes
- Surgical errors
- Childbirth injuries
We’ll take a look at each of these common types of malpractice below.
Diagnostic errors comprise the largest percentage of malpractice claims filed in the U.S. Between 2013 and 2017, misdiagnoses or delayed diagnoses resulted in 33% of the total number of malpractice claims that were filed.
Patients who receive incorrect diagnoses might receive unnecessary treatments that can cause them harm. Those whose diagnoses are delayed might suffer worsening of their conditions because of the lack of receiving timely medical interventions for their conditions.
Misdiagnoses occur when doctors fail to accurately identify a patient’s clinical symptoms and fail to seek additional information about their symptoms through ordering appropriate tests. A doctor can misdiagnose a patient and fail to refer him or her to a specialist. Other medical errors that can cause a patient to be misdiagnosed include the following:
- Losing test results
- Mislabeling test or lab results
- Making mistakes when interpreting data or conducting tests
Failing to correctly diagnose a patient can cause serious injuries or death. For example, a patient who is incorrectly diagnosed with cancer might undergo unnecessary treatment with harsh chemotherapy drugs and suffer injuries. On the other hand, someone whose cancer is not promptly diagnosed might have his or her cancer progress to the point that it is no longer treatable by the time an accurate but delayed diagnosis is made.
Negligent Failure to Treat
The Western Journal of Emergency Medicine reports that when doctors negligently fail to provide proper treatment, they violate the accepted standard of care for doctors who accept patients. This type of malpractice frequently results in medical malpractice claims.
Some examples of negligently failing to treat patients include the following actions:
- Discharging patients too early from hospitals
- Failing to give patients instructions for necessary follow-up care
- Failing to order necessary tests
- Failing to check the patient’s medical history when providing treatment or prescribing drugs
Some instances of a doctor’s negligent failure to treat a patient happen when the doctor has taken on more patients than they have the capacity to handle. In this type of situation, a doctor should instead refer a prospective patient to a different doctor who can provide the treatment the patient needs.
Prescription Drug Errors
Prescription drug errors can be very serious. Patients who receive the wrong drugs might suffer serious allergic reactions, dangerous drug interactions, or death.
Some examples of prescription drug errors that can result in malpractice claims include the following:
- Prescribing the wrong drug for the patient’s condition
- Prescribing too much or too little of a drug
- Failing to check the patient’s medical record for allergies or potential drug interactions
- Failing to check for signs of overdose, abuse, or addiction
- Administering a drug in the hospital to the wrong patient
Pharmacists can also make prescription drug errors either in the hospital or in private pharmacies when they misread doctors’ orders, fill prescriptions in the wrong doses, or give patients medications that were prescribed for someone else.
Whenever a surgical procedure is performed, multiple medical professionals will be in the operating room. Each professional who participates in a surgical procedure has a duty to prevent the patient from suffering harm. This duty includes the duty to prevent harm during elective surgeries, emergency surgeries, and outpatient surgeries.
The following types of errors are the most common types of surgical errors:
- Wrong-site surgery
- Wrong patient surgery
- Leaving medical devices inside of a patient
- Anesthesia errors
- Failing to follow the correct procedures before, during, or after surgery
Childbirth injuries can be devastating and cause lifelong disabilities or death. These types of injuries can be caused by providing substandard prenatal care, improperly using assistive devices during the birthing process, failing to recognize the signs of fetal distress, failing to perform a C-section when necessary, mishandling a baby during or after birth, or failing to recognize that the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck.
Get Help From an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you believe that your injuries or your loved one’s death were caused by the medical mistakes made by a doctor or another medical professional, you should consult an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Contact Raynes & Lawn today to schedule a free consultation by calling us at 1-800-535-1797.
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